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Philosophy and the Good Life
Reason and the Passions in Greek, Cartesian and Psychoanalytic Ethics


  • Date Published: July 1998
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521473101

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About the Authors
  • Can philosophy enable us to lead better lives through a systematic understanding of our human nature? John Cottingham's thought-provoking 1998 study examines the contrasting approaches to this problem found in three major phases of Western philosophy. Starting with the attempts of Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics and Epicureans to cope with the recalcitrant forces of the passions, he moves on to examine the fascinating and hitherto little-studied moral psychology of Descartes, and his effort to integrate the physical and emotional aspects of our humanity into a rational blueprint for fulfilment. He concludes by analysing the insights of modern psychoanalytic theory into the human predicament, arguing that philosophy neglects them at its peril if it hopes to come to terms with the complex relationship between reason and the emotions. Lucid in exposition and unusually wide-ranging in scope, Philosophy and the Good Life provides a challenging perspective on moral philosophy and psychology for students and specialists alike.

    • Ranges widely over three major areas of philosophical thought
    • Author a noted authority on Descartes, subject of chapter three
    • Lucid and accessible: suitable for students
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    Reviews & endorsements

    ' … a book of innumerable pleasures, of which Cottingham's careful eclecticism is perhaps one of the most unexpected. Anyone writing in the analytic tradition who can see as much (if not more) value in Lacan as in Locke deserves credit … Fittingly, this is not just about reason and the passions, but it is also written with plenty of both. It should not only refresh the jaded senses of those who feel they've read enough on ethics for one lifetime, but could also persuade those not of a philosophical disposition that maybe there's something to be said for the old discipline after all'. The Philosophers' Magazine

    ' … offers first thoughts on questions of real depth and importance.' The Times Literary Supplement

    'John Cottingham's masterful book is [written] … with pungency, elegance and an unpretentious seriousness. Few philosophers could read this book without learning a lot, and without wanting to think further about the important issues it raises.' Roger Crisp, Philosophical Books

    'Rich and wise and emotionally engaged … Cottingham's book is humane, learned, ambitious, original and beautifully written. Read it.' Timothy Chappell, Philosophical Quarterly

    'Fascinating … an excellent instance of a historically oriented treatment of a number of important substantive issues in ethics … Cottingham is to be warmly applauded for his humane and resounding defence of the project of [exploring how] philosophy and psychoanalysis can converge or cooperate in advancing our thinking about how we want to live.' Raymond Geuss, Philosophy

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 1998
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521473101
    • length: 246 pages
    • dimensions: 216 x 140 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.46kg
    • contains: 2 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Philosophy and how to live
    2. Ratiocentric ethics
    3. The ethics of science and power
    4. Ethics and the challenge to reason.

  • Author

    John Cottingham, University of Reading

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